Relancer l’économie sans aggraver la dette

NEW HAVEN – Alors qu’une grande partie de l'économie mondiale semble prise au piège d’une longue et douloureuse récession provoquée par les politiques d'austérité, il est temps d'admettre que nous avons mis au point ce piège seuls. Nous l'avons construit à partir de malheureuses habitudes de pensée à propos de la façon de gérer une explosion de la dette publique.

Les gens ont développé ces habitudes en se basant sur l'expérience de leurs familles et amis : en cas de problème d’endettement, il convient de réduire les dépenses et de passer à travers une période d'austérité jusqu'à ce que la charge (la dette par rapport au revenu) soit réduite. Ca signifie éviter de manger dehors pendant un certain temps, ne pas acheter de nouvelle voiture ni aucun nouveaux vêtements. Une telle réaction semble relever du bon sens – voire même de la vertu morale.

Pourtant, si cette approche de gestion de la dette fonctionne bien pour un seul ménage en difficulté, ce n’est pas le cas pour l'économie dans son ensemble, parce que les réductions de dépenses ne font qu'aggraver le problème. Il s’agit du paradoxe de l'épargne : se serrer la ceinture pousse les gens à perdre leur emploi, parce que les autres n'achètent plus ce qu'ils produisent, de sorte que leur endettement augmente plutôt que de diminuer.

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